Canola out of the ground

Jo FulwoodThe West Australian

Canola is already out of the ground in Southern Brook, with seeding beginning on the Dempster property on April 10.

Rob Dempster, who farms with father Vern and brother Dan, said 25mm of rain received in early April, prompted the trio to seed 210ha of canola and 140ha of lupins.

While the start is two weeks earlier than the traditional Anzac Day kick off, the canola has germinated well, according to Mr Dempster.

The family business will seed 2500ha this season, of which 85 per cent is cereals, with the balance being canola and lupins.

While moisture stress is a risk when sowing so early, Mr Dempster said from his experience, this timing tended to promote vigour and increase yield potential, particularly in canola.

He said having a high portion of the farm in a pasture phase provided him with robust weed control, which was a key part of a successful early sowing strategy.

"The canola has germinated well and is looking really good," he said.

"The lupin germination is a little bit patchy, but it's still adequate."

The Dempster business is also mouldboard ploughing 120ha in an attempt to solve the problem of non-wetting soils, to alleviate compaction and to incorporate lime to depth.

"We are also deep ripping 370ha to a depth of 350mm to alleviate the compaction layer mostly present at 250mm depth," he said.

Mr Dempster said the mould boarding had begun a month ago and while it was a significant time investment for his business, the long-term improvement in soil structure and yields was worth the effort.

He said last year they had ploughed 80ha and would potentially look at doing a further 50ha each year into the future.

"This season we are also hoping to commence controlled traffic to prevent compaction post mould boarding and deep ripping," he said.

The property has received 70mm to date, in an area that receives an annual rainfall of 375mm.

The Dempsters also run 3500 Merino ewes, half of which are mated to Merinos and the remainder to Poll Dorsets.

Mr Dempster said the business said if the topsoil remained dry, the business would begin sowing wheat within a week.

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